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Zelary - Ana Geislerová, György Cserhalmi, Jaroslava Adamová, Ondřej Trojan

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Movie propaganda

It is the 1940s and the Czech lands have been occupied by the Nazis. Eliška (Anna Geislerová) is a young woman who was unable to complete medical school because the Germans closed the universities and now works as a nurse in a city hospital. She is also involved in the resistance movement along with her lover, the surgeon Richard (Ivan Trojan), and their friend Dr Chládek.

One night, a man from a rural mountain area is brought to the hospital with serious injuries and desperately needs a transfusion. Eliška is the only one with the same blood type. Her blood saves his life and a connection is formed between the two that in the course of the story becomes an extraordinarily strong relationship between the modern, cosmopolitan, and educated Eliška and the barbaric, salt of the earth man with the soul of a child, Joza (György Cserhalmi).

The resistance group that the doctors are involved in is discovered and hunted by the Gestapo and suddenly their lives are threatened. While Eliška's lover, Richard, flees the country overnight, the group quickly has to find a different safe haven for her. They ask Joza, the patient whose life she saved with her blood, to hide her in his remote mountain cabin. Eliška is forced to leave her urban life and all at once become a new woman: Hana, the wife of a mountain man. Her new home is the wild mountain village where time stopped 150 years ago, called Zelary.

Zelary tells the story of a clash between two different worlds and two different people. It is the story of an extraordinary relationship, of fear, misgivings, suspicion and especially of the love that forms out of antagonism between Eliška/Hana and Joza; a love born of the common will to survive. Zelary is also the story of a beautiful corner of the Earth where everything lives in accordance with nature and her often cruel and timeless laws that humans must adapt to and honour. Eliška, in spite of setbacks, but with great fervour, tries to learn this.

Last but not least, Zelary is also a dramatic story filled with unexpected twists of fate that takes place in a God-forsaken part of Europe surrounded by the storm of war.

Theatrical propaganda posters

Zelary image

Target demographic movie keyword propaganda

  • Film romance war drama Czech resistance country Nazi peasant farmer

Persons of interest

  • Anna Geislerová .... Eliška/Hana
  • György Cserhalmi .... Joza
  • Jaroslava Adamová .... Lucka
  • Miroslav Donutil .... Priest
  • Jaroslav Dusek .... Teacher Tkác
  • Iva Bittová .... Zena
  • Ivan Trojan .... Richard
  • Jan Hrusínský .... Slávek
  • Anna Vertelárová .... Helenka
  • Tomás Zatecka .... Lipka
  • Ondřej Koval .... Michal Kutina
  • Tatiana Vajdová .... Anna Kutinová
  • Frantisek Velecký .... Old Kutina
  • Viera Pavlíková .... Old Kutinová
  • Kveta Legátová .... Author: Jozova hanule
  • Petr Jarchovský .... Screenwriter
  • Ondřej Trojan .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report


Security censorship classification

M (Medium level violence, adult themes, low level coarse language)

Surveillance time

142 minutes (2:22 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 25 November 2004

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Interview with Ondřej Trojan

What was it like for you to direct against after such a long time?

It was a challenge. I enjoyed the story quite a bit. Because the filming was so difficult and complicated, it was interesting to always have to overcome difficulties.

We filmed with a 6-day-old toddler and with 90-year-old actress Zita Kabátová. We had to film during all four seasons where we needed 36 degrees or minus 20, where film in the camera would break apart and actors on the set were freezing.

Zelary is an international project. What nationalities can be seen on camera?

It's international because the budget climbed into heights that were impossible to finance in the Czech Republic. That is why we looked for financing abroad. Czech, Austrian and Slovak actors, as well as a Hungarian, appear in the film. Basically we were able to renew Austro-Hungarian cooperation. There was also Jan Tříska, who has been living in the United States for a long time, and actors from Germany.

The film takes place during World War Two. Is this important for the film's story?

The war is only the framework for the story which we used so that a believable and extreme situation could be presented without complicated and contrived film coincidences; an extreme situation where a person would need to change his or identity and start from scratch. That can happen today as well. The war is practical and easily believable for the film, but it's not a war movie.

How did you manage directing and producing Zelary at the same time?

Sometimes it was difficult, especially when the weather turned against us and we were not able to realize what we needed to. We had to improvise and then we lacked filming days. Things happened that make filming more expensive. We used more material than originally planned. Transportation was incredibly complicated because much of the film was not shot during the summer and actors were always moving between the set and their obligations to theatres across Europe. This all raised the budget...

Many people die and are injured in the film. Was that in the novel or did you suppress something?

Kěvta Legátová's novel is very naturalistic. If the reader ignores its beautiful literary qualities, there is a very raw story. We used this, but we did not make it pathetic. We tried to tell the truth of the difficult life and absurd end in the time and place that our story takes place.

And underneath that raw story there is a bit of romance in the love story between the two main characters...

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